Saturday, 29 September 2012

Summer has her 4th brood

18th September 2012

Since Pearl left the safety of the hutch, both day and night, I have seen her regularly. But today I was worried as no Pearl for the morning feed, Hubbie reported he didnt see her at lunchtime and she wasn't there when I got home - but thankfully reported for the evening feed, and of course got peanuts specially thrown to her little pink feet!

My blog reader is always asking after Fennie dove, so I remembered to get out my camera and prove that Fennie is totally recovered. Here he is on the roof...

and back view....
If you remember, he had an injured wing and spent several weeks staying close to the garden and spending the nights under the gutter on the cottage roof. Here he is in May...
Also photographed today..... Lesa...who is moulting slightly around his head
And Bandit - also a he, and currently courting a young lady dove....
And Cloud, also injured in the spring but now fine....getting tangled with the hose...
At tea time - 4pm - hubbie comes home if he can and we have afternoon tea and watch All Creatures Great and Small, currently showing on the Yesterday channel - very civilised! Today as he came in the gate, he said 'Are the doves ok?' - Yes, I said, Why? ..... He had just seen a fox come out of the garden! Broad daylight! The fox had emerged under the laurel bush in the far corner of the garden, from behind the dove hospital and obviously near Jose's table. I was a bit horrified because minutes before Jose had been on the ground, and I had also been out all day and left her and Happy to it - not locked up. We have started doing the urine thing again - where we save it up and pour it round the places where a fox might enter the garden, but if foxy is going to come in the daytime, I can't protect the birds totally, and won't have Jose and Faith locked in permanently - it's not fair to them. I don't know if the urine will work, but it is an old remedy that is recommended. I knew a fox had been around in the night, as I'd had to clear the disgusting evidence from the lawn, but as now Jose and Faith are both brought in at night, and there is no way a fox could reach Summer then I wasn't worried. I always shut Faith up when I go out - mainly to protect a poorly old bird from male dove advances, but I haven't been shutting Jose up like I always used to - because of Happy.
Wed. 19th - Happy came to the hutch and went in early, so I shut them in together as I was going out again. They may be shut in but at least they have company, and Happy still likes sitting in the egg-less nest, just cooing! He still brings the occasional stick to add to it! Silly boy, Jose is not interested!
I took a photo of another stunning new recruit - who will be called Black Joseph. He is very like Joseph who had paramyxo and is now recovered but much darker, especially on his back.


 To remind you, here is he was in August....


Sunday 23rd  Sept 12 - Such dreadfully hard rain fall that I brought poor Faith in from a dripping wet  box in the garden to sit in the conservatory - where she had a nice doze.....

The draped thing in the background is Jose's crate - the old sheet is on to drape the back to give Jose some privacy at night!!!
I caught a  bold young dove in Jose's hutch the other day - and ringed her with blue/green rings, and named her Cheeky. She doesn't come every day, but when she does, she always heads straight for the hutch again. I have never seen her on the lawn so far.

A beautiful browny-mauve pigeon is in the garden. He reminded me of Chocolate Brownie so much that I wondered if it could possibly be him back again. But here's the new one....
and here's Chocolate Brownie, in April 2011
and you can see the CB has white feathered legs, which the new one, Chocolate Brownie2, has not!
There a very cute little bird around the garden at the moment. It's very elusive, the minute I get my camera it disappears! I don't even know what it is...... what do you think? Sorry, it's a very bad photo, taken after dark.
Still way way too many pigeons around. They are very bold and come to the kitchen door.....

and even come inside for peanuts on the mat! Ok, I know I am encouraging them!
Tuesday 25.9.12 - Today we had some sunshine and Faith was able to sit at the front of her box and enjoy it.
In the early evening, just before it got dusk, I noticed some egg shell on the patio. It definitely wasn't there earlier as I had swooshed the patio down with the contents of the bucket after I'd washed the kitchen floor. Does this mean Sky and Summer's first egg has hatched? I honestly can't remember when they are due! If I get a chance I will peep into the cote tomorrow.
Friday 28th Sept. - Well a few days have gone quickly past and I haven't seen Joseph for all of them - though Black Joseph is still visiting. I really miss my gorgeous Joseph of many colours, and his enquiring face looking up to see if the peanuts are coming. Poor Charlie, who got caught by the sparrowhawk in the spring, and was rescued by me, seems to have something wrong with him like a mild form of paramyxo. He finds it hard to pick up grain at the first stab, and by the time he's going for it for the second time 'some rascal or other has popped in and prigged it!'. Luckily he seems to live very locally, and stays around at the end of the day with a few others, when most of the pigeons have left, so I can feed him and he has the leisure to eat. Sometimes it takes him up to five pecks before he can pick it up, poor thing! The other pigeons with him are lucky as they get fed too - and one of my rules is - now that I have so many birds here - that pigeons alone, without white doves in their number - don't get fed at all - unless they are special or poorly! This is Charlie, below, easily recognised with his white wing feathers and purple ring.
And here he is just after he was rescued.... in shock.... and before ringing

Later he developed a problem with his neck and could only eat if he didnt bend down too far.... Here here is in February with his thickened or swollen neck.
So he is a survivor anyway, and hopefully will get over whatever ails him now.
Today I checked the calendar and realised that I had seen one egg laid in the nest in the cote on 9th Sept which is obviously 19 days ago and therefore it must've hatched by now. I took the steps and gently, quietly had a peek, and could see a fluffy yellow bundle under Summer. Wow! we have at least one baby!
This is Sky and Summer's fourth brood this year, and all since May too - first we had Elizabeth and Olympia, then Elizabeth2 and Philip, then Spring and Autumn, and now this one...or two. The first Elizabeth died, and so did poor little Pip from the second batch. I no longer see Olympia or Lizzie2 so I don't know what happened to them, but Spring and Autumn are stunning birds, and still visiting. I do so hope they survive til next year, and Pearl of course, Jose and Happy's baby. These three were all growing up in the best possible time of year, with good weather and plenty of food, and Spring &Autumn had experienced parents, so I am hopeful for all three, but so far, in all my dovie history, I haven't had one baby survive and be seen in the garden the next year. Some babies may have survived but flown away to somewhere else.
Due to the huge numbers of pigeons and me trying to cut back on the feed, I have been feeding Sky and Summer in the cote,  by gently reaching up and putting a small handful of grain and peanuts on the front doorstep, as it were, of the nestbox. Summer is actually quite tame and will sometimes eat from my hand if I sit on the grass. Both she and Sky accept the extra feeding in the cote graciously, though in the beginning I was scared that I might frighten them from the nest. It means that whoever is on the nest can eat without leaving it, or waiting for the other parent to come back and relieve them.
Hopefully the next blog will be all about the new baby/ be contd.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pearl leaves home

Tuesday 11.9.12

On Sunday when I can home at noon from carbooting, my husband said wearily 'A pigeon flew into the back kitchen'.....'Oh' I said 'Why didnt you chase it out?'....Then I found that the pigeon was injured and hubbie had thought it best to let it be and wait for me to come home. The pigeon was, I thought, a young one, and had a wound on its body and wing. It was hiding behind something on the floor and didn't want to be caught. I examined it, and then bathed the wound with a weak TCP and water solution. Sunday was extremely hot, and I was worried that the open wound and smell of blood would attract flies to lay their eggs on the poor pigeon.

Once treated, I left the pigeon in a secure box with food and water, in a cool part of the garden - I named him Jem2, after poor Jem with the wounded leg - that didn't survive.

Jem2 is a scruffy, feisty little bird, but seemed reasonably content to sit in a box and recuperate.
The wound looks nasty, but I didn't think it was too bad. Jem came into the conservatory for the night, in a box next to Faith in the crate, and next morning went into the hospital run. Most of the day he stayed in the upstairs part, with me checking him a couple of times, and giving him a drink. In the late afternoon, he came down into the run, and was pecking round the wire trying to get out. Luckily for me, he realised he couldnt and went upstairs again, so it was easy for me to get him out to go into the box in the conservatory for the second night. The wound was drying up, and I used my special bird cream on it - the same I used on Cloud and other pigeons/doves with fairly superficial grazes.
Today, 11.9.12, it was a fine day and I was going to be out for most of it, so I made the decision to set Jem free. As soon as I opened his box in the conservatory, he struggled past me and flew to the windows, bashing into them. I could see he wanted to be free, and could fly, so once I had checked him over again, re-annointed the drying out graze, and ringed him with pink and yellow rings, I took him into the garden where he flew straight to the roof.

The wound, 2 days later - and below Jem on the roof
I may have released him a bit too early, but today and tomorrow, I will be out a lot, so I didn't want him to be cooped in, if unnecessary, and he certainly felt well enough to be out and about. When I got home, he was still on the roof, but flew away with the flock at bedtime, so I hope I will see him tomorrow. Rings for the doves/pigeons means extra food, so if he comes back he will be treated to peanuts, thrown directly to his feet! Like Cloud, Fennie, Joseph and so many others!
Tonight was the first night that Autumn - approx 45 days old - didn't spend the night in the dovecote. She did come to the cote - and fly to where Summer is in the nestbox, and was rejected, but she 's done that before and then gone in one of the other holes - but tonight she didnt settle, and didnt stay - though Spring did, as usual. I wish the babies would stay, but they never seem to. I haven't seen Lizzie2 for a few days now, and that's a bad sign. If she has perished, it means that none of the first two lots of Sky and Summer's babies have survived. Autumn and Spring, born to experienced parents, and in the best of the weather, are so incredibly beautiful and healthy looking - so white and smooth, as Val, one of my blog readers, pointed out in the comments. The adult doves are white too, but the babies are Persil white and ironed! 

Pearl, a few days younger than Autumn and Spring, is just as beautiful. He spends much of his time out and about with Happy and the rest of the flock, but is still coming back to the hutch at bedtime. Jose, I think, is not being particularly nice to him. I have noticed that she seems to peck at him (or her! sorry I know I keep changing Pearl's sex, but I don't know what she is! I will try to remember to call Pearl 'her' til we know!). Anyway, Jose pecks at Pearl, and she goes behind the little step of bricks in the hutch to 'hide' for the night. I have been thinking that maybe Jose was going to start another nest, but she hasn't so far - thank goodness, and so I have made the decision that from tomorrow night on, I will remove Jose to the conservatory for the nights, which will leave Pearl to roost in the hutch - hopefully keeping her safe. This won't worry or affect Happy as he always leaves the garden, and as soon as he's done so, I'll bring Jose in. I'll clean the crate out and Jose can have it back, and Faith can go in one of the boxes.
Below, the 'triplets' - Autumn, Spring and Pearl - enjoying the September sunshine

Happy has rearranged the sticks in the hutch, and made a sketchy second 'nest' in the corner - see bottom right of the photo - but I don't think Jose is particularly interested.

Maybe I will be proved wrong, but I don't want more babies in the hutch now at this season. Spring and Summer's new eggs, if they hatch, won't fledge until around the 25th October - not a very good start in life for the young birds if the weather in late Oct/Nov proves to be very wet, or cold.
Happy and Jose continue to canoodle though - and here's Pearl ignoring Mummy and Daddy's behaviour

I have been in contact with the lady who collected her racing pigeon, and she has kindly called her after my home town! The pigeon's eye was infected, but will get better with drops, but she will never race again. I believe she has a mate, and he will race, and hurry home to her, and any squabs they have. The lady kindly sent me a copy of British Homing World - I found some of the articles and snippets of interest. It was great to see that there is a club in Guernsey, as this little island is very close to my heart - as are pigeons!!
The beautiful stranger from my last blog - also a racer - is still around. I presume he will move on when he's ready, and although I'd be happy to have him join my flock.
Wed.12th Sept - It was a gloomy early evening, so I put Faith in the conservatory about 5.30pm, and Jose, in the newly cleaned crate, about 5.40pm. Happy was still around, but I didnt want to miss the opportunity to get them all sorted the way I felt best. Spring had already put herself to put in the cote. Shortly afterwards, Pearl came back to the hutch, and Happy started to make up to her (his own daughter, tut tut!) - so I guided her in, him out and shut up the hutch. Pearl fluttered at the wire front for a while, and Happy walked up and down the ledge of the table outside, but they soon settled, and I felt I'd down the right thing. Jose, in the conservatory, just sat down in the corner of the crate quite happily.

And soon appeared to be nodding off....

Thursday 13.9.12 -  I haven't seen Jem2 again. Maybe I released him too early, or maybe he was just passing through anyway. As soon as I opened up the hutch, Pearl flew off out to the roof, and soon Happy arrived to join Jose, who I'd brought out of the conservatory.
It was a sunny day, and Faith is always dirty around the nether regions, but today I gave her a full bath, then because she was shivering I left her in the very warm conservatory to dry off.

I am amazed that she carries on living - she is very thin, but doesnt have to expend much energy as she can't fly now. She has her little routine, as follows.... I don't put her into the garden first thing, I wait for the day to warm up a bit. Then she goes in an open box on the garden table, facing the sun. She usually stays in this all morning, or just sits in the entrance. Lunchtime, I offer her a drink by dipping her beak in water, then I put her up in the beans. Mid afternoon, she either jumps down to join the flock of the grass for feeding time, or I bring her down. She waddles about, but is quite quick to get in there for the peanuts! Then it's back up in the beans again, or in the box, and an early bedtime for her at about 5.30pm. A gentle quiet day for an old lady!
In the early evening, Pearl was around in the garden....shown here perching on the chair.

Some late pigeons came down to see if there were any grains left, and as Charlie was amongst them, I gave them a few extra. Charlie is a pigeon I rescued from the hawk right on the patio outside the kitchen door. He has been fine ever since, and is easily recognised by his white wings and purple ring.

Later Spring flew off with Autumn, abandoning the dovecote as a place to spend the night, and only Happy and Pearl were left on the roof.

I was trying to cook the supper, but keep an eye on Pearl, so that as soon as she came down to the hutch I could shut her in. Eventually Happy flew away, and she did come down, but seemingly reluctantly.
Friday 14.9.12 -  There are still far too many pigeons, despite me trying to cut down on the amount of grain I give them.


They jostle to get the food, and even spread their wings out to keep the others off - like the cliche of ladies with elbows out at the Sales!
Sometimes, I try and encourage them to eat from my hands and some of the bolder ones will give it a try. The one on the left is Freckles, but you can't see the brown splotches on this back very well in this photo.

Autumn, having grown up with me, as it were, is not scared to come quite close.
Then sometimes, suddenly, for no reason at all, they will all get spooked and fly off together....
The draught from their wings is so great sometimes, that my floaty summer skirt billow up and raise up! Lucky we are not overlooked!
In the evening, I was going to see a friend, but wanted to get Pearl shut up in the hutch before I went.
She sat up on the roof with Happy and some others, and eventually flew away with them. I doubt she'll ever come back to the hutch now - she doesn't visit it during the day. Big girl now - left home at 44 days old. Come back safe, my precious Pearl!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

All the babies fledge

Wednesday 29th August ' 12

This morning at 6.30 am both Spring and Autumn were in the dovecote, waiting for daddy Sky and mummy Summer to come and give them breakfast, but by 8am Autumn was missing, presumed fledged and nowhere to be seen! I was concerned as I had to be leaving by quarter to nine, and it was promising to be a miserable rainy day. I checked the other holes of the dovecote, and the flower bed, and left with a bit of a heavy heart as I didn't find him |(or her) but thankful that I had left Pearl, Jose and Happy locked up safely together in the hutch, and Spring was still in the cote.

Parents and baby - but who's who?
Spot the difference!
Can you tell which is which? Well that's Pearl at the front, Happy in the middle and Jose at the back!
I came back home in the rain at 3pm - all the birds were ravenous, and I fed the flock first, then released Happy and Jose, checked Faith, gave her a drink of water because I am never sure she drinks without me and then went to see what was happening with the twins. Well I could see Spring had fledged too, and was out standing on one of the two boxes I had put on the hedge to give shelter if needed.

But Autumn was still nowhere to be seen - until I had gone to the trouble of changing into jeans and wellies to have a good look in the wet flower-beds and everywhere, and then he popped up out of nowhere, but was in fact in the lower dovecote hole, facing the hutch. I was relieved the hunt was over before it had started and I could have a cup of tea!
Autumn stayed in there, but Spring stayed out in the rain with Summer....
and then Sky joined them....
But a while later when the parents fluttered to the roof, I trapped Spring in the net, and put him in the dovecote, out of the damp, with Autumn. Both in the same hole, and they stayed there for bedtime, thank goodness, so I didn't have to do any worrying or catching!
Thursday 30th Aug.12
Today started with Sky looking for sticks under Jose's table...

Now Spring and Autumn have moved to another compartment in the cote no doubt he thinks he will start making another nest. Oh no please Sky, can't you feel the nip in the air, we don't need a fourth set of babies!
Here's Pearl's portrait - four weeks old today!

 Summer is in the favoured nest box, with Happy on the top of the cote - he was trying to coax Pearl to fly with him, but she is young yet, a few more days maybe - and you can see one of the twins in the the lower compartment (both were in there). The dove cote needs cleaning and painting desperately - I hope to take it down and do it this winter.

In the afternoon, Pearl joined her parents on the table outside - L to R Pearl, Happy, Jose
Careful Pearl! You'll get stuck!
Dove family portrait - L to R Mother, Baby, Father

Faith, still in the beans (if not full of them!)
At the end of the day, Lesa is often one of the last doves in the garden. I think he has a nest nearby as he is dirty down his front - which often happens when a parent is constantly going into a grubby nest area. He (or she) is a nervous bird, very elusive, hard to photograph. I have often recently tried to get a good photo of him, but he walks very quickly, eats rapidly and flies off before I can get a good shot. Here's the best I could do!
Happy on the other hand, is confident, calm, tame and very pleased to pose for me! He is always the very very last bird to leave the garden.
Here he is relaxing at the end of the day, sitting on the hospital (at present unoccupied). Can I have a close up, Happy? Of course! What a handsome fellow he is. Spring and Autumn were in the back of the dovecote at bedtime - they have fledged just to the back of the cote, and don't come out very much!

Friday 31st August - The last day of August, and chilly this morning. Sky continued to collect sticks, and one time when I saw a white dove in the raised bed I thought it was him, but it was I watched him take a long stick through the entrance to the hutch and plonk it right on top of Pearl!!! Pearl is Daddy trying to tell you something? I wish I'd been able to film it, you had to see it to believe it! Pearl got up, but the stick didn't fall off immediately.
Below is Joseph in the middle of the photo. He's coping very well as he recovers from paramyxovirus, but I help him by always throwing peanuts right in front of him. The other pigeons swoop on them, and sometimes in every handful he only gets one or two, so I follow him around the lawn, trying to judge the throws so he gets enough.
Here's a rare picture of Bobbie 3 - it's not rare for me to see him as he's usually with the flock when feeding, but I don't usually have my camera then. I can't now remember what was wrong with him - but whatever it was, he recovered and is fine! You can just about see his identifying blue ring.
There were so so many pigeons here today - I really can't feed them all. The roof in this photo only shows some of them- I don't dare count them, there must be 150 or more!
They certainly make themselves at home
Relaxing and bathing
A lone white dove amongst them!
And this one - in the middle - can you see? She must've come straight from the nest as a hatched egg is still sticking to her. She came to the ground and the egg wobbling between her legs made it difficult to walk, but she flew to the roof, and seconds after I took the photo, the egg unstuck and tumbled down the tiles.
Later I am pretty sure there was a hawk attempt on the flock, as I heard a thud, and just saw some brown wings flying away. The pigeons scattered and didn't come back for ages... and when they did, there weren't so many, so maybe it was a good thing! But I hate the hawk being attracted to the garden as it puts my special doves at great risk.
This morning my little family all squashed in together - Happy's maybe sorry he plonked a stick on Pearl!
And Spring and Summer abandoned nest building to relax in the greens


I'm not sure if Faith is eating much - I fed her a few peanuts by hand today, but there is not much point in that if she is at the end of her life, and choosing not to eat... well, we will see how she gets on. She seems content enough...sitting on the garden table in the photo below
I took Pearl out of the hutch to take her photo today, and when I gently released her she flew the short distance back to the open hutch. I don't really want her to fledge properly, and leave the hutch - my precious baby!
1st September 2012 - September already! But often a lovely month, let's hope we get an Indian Summer - I hope that every year! 

Spring came down on the ground, I think for the first time today. He seems to now be more advanced than Autumn, though I was convinced it was the other way round at first. Here he is swamped by the pigeons. Then I gently shooed them away, and he is too young to worry about shooing, so he stayed
and fed himself - though Sky and Summer still feed him too.
I was worried that Autumn is staying in the back of the cote, and maybe not attracting attention from Sky and Summer, so I took her out despite much squeaking to feel her crop - but she appeared to have that grainy feel, and so I put her back and am hoping for the best. I just don't want her to get left behind like poor little Pip did. His death was just so sad and he was a sweet little bird. Lizzy2, Spring and Autumn's older sibling, is still here every day to feed, and like all my ringed birds gets peanuts thrown to her specially.

Pearl doesn't like being taken out of the hutch, but here she is, looking beautiful as always. Her plumage is so soft and thick. She's gorgeous! I let her fly back to the hutch as it's good practice!
And guess what? her daddy, Happy, didnt fly away tonight, but stayed in the hutch, so you know what that means, don't you? I suspect there might be an egg in the morning!
2.9.12 - I was totally mistaken! Happy wasn't in the hutch when I opened up this morning - he must've snuck away when I wasn't looking. So, as we were....
I went out early again this Sunday, off to my car boot, but was surprised to see a collared dove with spread wings on the ground in the narrow exit from our yard to the outer world! I didnt realise it was dead at first.... the poor pretty little thing, it only had the most minor damage to one eye - I wonder what happened? What a shame....
Later, when I drove home, another collared dove was fluttering around the same place.... probably it's mate. This sort of thing really saddens me....
The squirrels are back in the garden - here one helps himself, while Jose and Happy stand well back..
Sky and Summer spent a lot of time together cosying up in the cote today. I have noticed that there is quite a respectable stick nest in there now.
Spring and Autumn peeped out of their  new chosen sleeping places - Autumn top back and Spring at the side

And later on Pearl did something naughty and had to be chastised by mummy and daddy
At least that what it looks like to me in this photo!
But he soon bounced back to his normal self
Mon 3.9.12 -  Spring and Autumn are fully fledged. They can feed themselves although still squeak for food from Sky, and get it! They are more independant and less needy than the previous pair, Lizzy2 and the poor little Pip. Never once have they used the day boxes I put on the hedge, and there's been no worrying and catching them at night. Every evening they've put themselves to bed in the cote, and Sky hasn't blocked the entrances or stopped them doing so, like he did Lizzy2 & Pip, and before them, Lizzy and Lympy.

 Pearl shows no sign of fledging - it's much too comfortable here with Mummy and Daddy during the day, and just Mummy at night. She wanders around the table....

But then wonders how to get back in????
Oh well, I think it's this way - best foot forward!
Are you tired, Mummy?
Today's portrait
Autumn decided to visit the old nestbox, just for old times sake.....
But mummy Summer soon saw her off....
Tue.4th Sept - I was at Birdworld today so was taking photos of other birds - like this budgie
But I didn't forget to take my daily picture of Pearl
Wed. 5th Sept 12 - As soon as Happy arrived at Jose's table this morning about 6.30am I could see that he had one purpose in mind - to get Pearl to fledge! and within minutes Pearl followed Daddy to the roof for the first time. Well she (or he) IS about 34 days old, and that's a couple of days over the latest normal fledging time.
I was surprised to see, in the late afternoon, Spring still demanding to be fed... and Sky did give in and feed her. She's approximately 38 days old now. Really Spring you are too old for Daddy to feed you now, though my book does say that squabs may not be fully independant until 7 weeks old.
A beautiful stranger, with racing rings, turned up in the garden when I'd already decided that it was the end of the feeding day - and I am really trying to economise with grain as it is so expensive.

But I couldn't let such a gorgeous bird, white with soft brown marking, go hungry, could I?
And guess who's spending the night? - Summer!
And that's another dovie week done! Now Pearl's fledged I won't be taking daily photos - she's gone from this - her first picture
To this... in 34 days!
To be cont....